Di Luo’s research focuses on how particular building forms and practices in China and Buddhist Asia evolved over time, and how, more importantly, certain “prototypes” and “archetypes” persisted through these changes and became highly distinctive motifs that prevailed in China and across its borders.
Luo’s first book project, Miniature Architecture in China: A Cross-cultural History, is the first comprehensive survey of miniature architecture in China from the Neolithic age to the twentieth century. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of shrines, cabinets, domes, reliquaries, sarcophagi, and “spirit vessels” found in Chinese temples and tombs. The examination of the miniature architecture is contextualized in two core strands of trans-Asian exchanges along the Silk Road—the dissemination of religious ideas and practices, and the transmission of scientific knowledge and building technologies. The study focuses on scale as a key to understanding architecture and material culture, and emphasizes China’s exchanges with Korea, Japan, India, and as far as Anatolia.
Luo has taught courses in Chinese art and architecture, Japanese art and architecture, Asian art, and world art. Her future courses will include “Silk Road: Art, Archaeology, and Material Culture,” “Chinoiserie,” “Buddhist Art and Architecture,” and “Monuments and Miniatures: From the Tower of Babel to Japanese Zen Gardens.”
Luo was formerly trained as an architect and she worked for several architecture firms in Los Angeles and Beijing. This experience has often spurred her to approach the subject of her study from an architect’s point of view. The same experience has transferred to a confidence in applying digital tools, especially 3D modeling and photogrammetry, in surveying, documenting, and analyzing art and architecture.
Luo previously taught at Wake Forest University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Southern California.